In 2012, a senior Google executive issued an apology to Apple inc. expressing his regret in not warning Apple that mapping and navigation aren’t easy.
The sarcastic apology came in light of the widely regarded failed launch of Apple Maps, the outdoor navigation and mapping application which Apple released with the launch of iPhone 5 and the iOS6 operating system. Evidently, outdoor navigation is not easy.
Furthermore, I would like to say to this Google executive: if you think outdoor navigation is hard, try to map and navigate indoors. It’s an even more elusive challenge. In this series, we describe the challenges and how SPREO has solved them.
Chapter 1: Finding extremely accurate location
In order to accurately navigate indoors you need positioning accuracy of about 2 meters or better. 2 meters or better allows you to take into account the small frame work of an indoor space. For example it allows you to differentiating between the entrances of two different stores, detect the floor the user is on, and find your car in the parking lot.
Existing outdoor navigation and mapping applications use the Global Positioning Systems (GPS). GPS is a great technology, available in all smartphone devices, and it is successful in navigating and finding locations worldwide. On its best day, GPS has an accuracy of about 5 meters, and sometimes as large as 15 meters, which is clearly over the 2 meters needed for indoor positioning. Accuracy aside, it turns out that GPS cannot even work indoors.
In response, developers have turned to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth sensors to find indoor location. With this comes a separate set of challenges, most obvious of which is that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology were built to transfer data, not to show location. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to find that these sensors do not inherently provide accurate location. Manipulating Wi-FI and Bluetooth sensors to work for you in finding location is the first step in achieving accurate indoor location.
This is only the first challenge for those brave enough to take on indoor navigation.
Want to know the next challenge? Wait to read our next post.
– The SPREO development team